This day, but also this time of year, is the culturally prescribed time for reflection. Though I’m not sitting around a table with my family and friends back in the U.S. to take turns saying what we are grateful for, I have been surrounded by people who are also vocalizing what they are thankful for. And I’m not just talking about the Facebook statuses of my American friends and family back home nor the cultural proliferation of American traditions–today is a big day for Colombia and the country’s path towards peace. I wonder if it is a coincidence that on the same day Americans celebrate Thanksgiving, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and FARC leader Timoleón Jimenez signed a new peace accord.
In Teatro Colon, a spectacular theater in downtown Bogotá, the President, FARC leader, and other important figures of the state and guerrilla groups came together. During the signing ceremony, Timoleón gave a speech discussing the changes in the new accord, and only minutes ago, Santos gave a speech which was televised live. Santos explained that he thinks this accord was better than those voted on in October, and he also proudly declared that only 40 days after the first accords were rejected in the plebiscite, the negotiation team has drafted new accords that have been deemed acceptable to both parties. At this point, the Congress will debate the new accords starting on Tuesday, then on November 30 the members of Congress will vote to approve the accords, and, once approved, they will become law and the process of demobilization of FARC and weapons turned in to UN officials.
Many feared that the key leaders involved in peace negotiations would lose momentum after the discouraging outcome on October 2nd, but after Santos was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace, I had faith he would be able to pull something together. After the devastation of October 2nd, many of my friends are reserved in their celebration today–after the premature declarations that Colombia had already achieved peace back in September, the Colombian media, at least, is more precise and less bombastic.